First of all, indeed — amazon.com has the reviews section wrong. Most of the other reviews are referring to the old television show, NOT the 1981 movie starring Klinton Spilsbury.
Now that we have that out of the way, there’s little else to defend about this movie. Klinton Spilsbury (who looks like a more chiseled version of Rick Springfield), just isn’t very good in the part. Admittedly, his voice was dubbed by actor James Keach, and I think this makes his performance even more wooden. It’s way too monotone. I would love to hear Klinton’s real voice some day.
The movie does have some saving graces. John Barry’s score is absolutely terrific (the Waylon Jennings “songs” are quite the opposite though — any time his one man “Greek chorus” comes from the speakers, it’s flat out embarrassing). Jason Robards is quite good (although with limited screen time) as Ulysses S. Grant). Christopher Lloyd is actually pretty good as the bad guy (although I don’t know how people SO familiar with his “Taxi” character could not laugh when they saw him in this.
What makes this a one-star review is the HORRIBLE DVD transfer of this film. It literally looks like they took a VHS copy and made the DVD out of it. It’s 2 channel Dolby Digital (and sounds as flat as could be) and the picture is 4 x 3 and not formatted for 16 x 9 screens. It’s embarrassing. This is 2008 — I KNOW they could have done better than this.
As another reviewer said, “don’t waste your money on this.”
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Who was that masked man? Why, it was Klinton Spilsbury! “Who the hell is Klinton Spilsbury?” you’re probably asking. Well, it’s a good question, coz no one really knows it seems.
To me, there’s something fascinating about the concept of an actor making his film debut as the leading man in a major film, winning a Razzie award for the lousy performance, then never starring in a movie again. To this day, no one really knows where Spilsbury is, what he’s doing, or if he’s even alive. Rumor has it he was difficult to work with, and Wikipedia states that there is a rumor he was working at Subway for awhile!
Well, he had his 15 minutes(actually more like 98) as the iconic Lone Ranger in the 1981 bomb, The Legend Of The Lone Ranger-a movie considered so bad that it was swept under the rug and pretty much forgotten about. Even people I know who are into westerns are surprised to learn that a Lone Ranger film was made. Is it really as bad as it’s reputation? No, of course not. It’s got it’s moments, but I thought it was more boring than anything. The film shows how John Reid becomes the Lone Ranger, following him from his childhood where he meets his lifelong friend, Tonto, up to the moments he slips on the black mask(which is almost an hour into the film). Reid comes back to his hometown, now as a lawyer, and finds himself tagging along with some Texas rangers as they go out after the evil Butch Cavendish and his gang. Reid is the sole survivor of the massacre of the rangers by the Cavendish gang. The gang manage to kidnap President Grant(Jason Robards), giving Reid the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone by saving the president and getting his own revenge. So now, teamed up with his buddy Tonto and his newly acquired horse, Silver, Reid dons the mask and outfit and becomes The Lone Ranger.
Like I said, the movie is a bit on the boring side. It’s not nearly as epic as it would like to be, and the friendship between Reid and Tonto isn’t fleshed out enough(though they try). Tonto is played by Michael Horse, who folks may remember as Deputy Hawk in Twin Peaks. He’s easily one of the best parts of the film. In fact, his character is played out as equal, if not superior to Reid. Christopher Lloyd is great as the cold Butch Cavendish. Is Spilsbury as bad as they say? Nah. He’s wooden, but I’ve definitely seen worse. He looks quite a bit like an American Fabio Testi. The movie also has a musical type narration by Merle Haggard, which is unintentionally humorous, but amusing nonetheless.
All in all, this film isn’t as bad as they say, but I doubt it’ll make your top ten westerns list. Now if we could only track down Klinton Spilsbury!
I remember watching The Lone Ranger with my Father and when the movie came out, I was excited to relive that feeling. I thought the movie was a good retelling of the origion story and that it gave John Reid/Lone Ranger more of a human feel and that I could relate with him. I know that others didn’t like the film, but I can still watch the film and feel like a kid again with it. I almost feel like yelling “High-Yo Silver, Away” everytime I hear the William Tell Overture. It’s one of my personal favorites.